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Conservation Authorities

Read our Conservation Authorities Survey Guidance Document for background and our stance.


Ottawa River © Monteregina CC_BY-NC-SA-2

Conservation Authority Survey

In March 2020, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks consulted on the mandate of conservation authorities (CAs) and asked the public to complete a survey to help them determine the value of CAs to Ontarians.

The deadline to respond to the survey was March 13, 2020. Thank you to everyone who provided their feedback. Ontario Nature will keep you updated with next steps as this story progresses.

The survey followed public sessions where big developers and others have been urging the government to remove conservation authorities from the planning process, and to limit their mandate and scope. Limiting the mandate of CAs will only open the floodgates for unchecked development, threatening our communities’ flood plains, drinking water, biodiversity, natural heritage and more.

Conservation Authorities play a key role in protecting Ontarians from the impacts of climate change. We must resist the trend towards environmental deregulation in Ontario.

© Ryan McGilchrist CC BY-SA 2.0


CAs’ role in planning decisions must be maintained

The CAs’ role in planning decisions under the Planning Act and the Environmental Assessment Act ensure that developments do not result in changes to the floodplain and natural heritage that would put communities at risk from flooding.

The Flood Advisor’s report showed strong support for the conservation authority model in protecting Ontario from the impacts of climate change. This model only works if CAs have the regulatory power necessary to intervene in planning decisions and development applications.

Rideau River flood © Stephen CC BY-ND-NC 2.0


CAs’ role in monitoring needs to be maintained and supported

Watershed-scale monitoring programs are necessary for delivery of “core” programs regarding flood mitigation, natural hazards, and drinking water source protection.

Additionally, they hold significant value in delivering broader environmental protections including land conservation, biodiversity conservation, water quality protection, and ecological restoration.

Grand River monitoring © Michael Wynia

Community Projects

CAs should continue to play a key role in delivering community projects in partnership with municipalities and local organizations

CAs partner with local environmental and conservation groups, farmers, and their communities to deliver regionally significant projects including rehabilitating natural heritage, implementing agricultural best practices, and restoring or creating wetlands.

They often provide match funding, in addition to on-the-ground expertise.

Learning about wildlife © Grand River Conservation Authority


The watershed approach of CAs must be preserved

CAs operate at the watershed scale, providing a much-valued bridge across jurisdictional boundaries to understand and address environmental concerns, including flooding.

CAs conduct watershed-scale monitoring, data collection, modelling and assessments. They are ideally positioned to develop watershed strategies and encourage decision-making at that scale. They support watershed-wide activities including stewardship, communication, outreach and education.

Mission Island Marsh Conservation Area © Conservation Ontario


This letter, endorsed by 112 organizations, was sent to Premier Ford on April 29, 2020. The organizations call on the Government of Ontario to retain the current mandate of the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities in protecting, restoring and managing the watersheds.

Hilton Falls Conservation Area © Joe deSousa